How can a 38-year-old quarterback be playing as well today as he did a decade ago, when he was winning the last of his three consecutive NFL MVPs?
How can that player be so dominant after years of decline?
How can he be on pace for 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions after averaging 19 touchdowns and 23.5 interceptions the previous two seasons?
How can he be completing a career-high 68.5 percent of his passes after completing a career-low 56.0 percent last season?
How can a 38-year-old be getting better as the season progresses? How can someone with so much gray hair post passer ratings topping 100 in all five games after the bye? Shouldn't he be slowing down at this point?
Brett Favre is defying logic, and seemingly is adding entire chapters — not just paragraphs — to his legend with each passing week.
During his MVP seasons from 1995 to 1997, Favre completed about 61 percent of his passes for, on average, 4,060 yards, 37 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 96.0.
During this magical season, Favre is on pace for 4,881 yards. His passer rating of 101.5 is the best of his career, topping the 99.5 of 1995. His completion percentage is well ahead of his career-high 65.4, set in 2003, when Favre had the benefit of an all-time season by Ahman Green. His 7.9 yards per attempt not only are a career high, but it shows he's more than a dink-and-dunk passer.
So, which Favre is better? The MVP Favre of 10 or 12 years ago, or the 2007 Favre?
"I don't recall coaching a quarterback that's had a run like Brett's had in all my years," said coach Mike McCarthy, who worked with Joe Montana while the Hall of Fame quarterback was winding down his career in Kansas City. "His decision-making has been outstanding. His ball accuracy has always been a strength of his. But this is as good a run of a quarterback that I've been a part of."
The thing that's so incredible about this Favre is how he's responded to McCarthy's coaching. Here's a legendary quarterback, who's basically been on his own since Mike Holmgren left for Seattle, completely buying into what a first-time head coach is saying.
For years, how often have you heard the TV broadcasters quote some guy from the opposing defense saying how Favre is bound to provide three or four opportunities for interceptions every game? That gambling Favre is long gone. You probably need only one hand to add up all of Favre's boneheaded decisions this season.
While he still has the rocket arm of the vintage Favre, he has acquired the football IQ of Montana. It's not just Favre avoiding the foolish throws that resulted in so many interceptions throughout his career, but it's Favre consistently doing the right thing at the line of scrimmage.
After years of being locked into whatever play Mike Sherman called, Favre is free to run the show at the line of scrimmage. Time and again, Favre has spotted a flaw in the defense and pounced.
It's interesting, also, to compare Favre's lists of weapons.
In 1995, running backs Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens combined for 109 receptions. Robert Brooks caught 102 passes, but No. 2 receiver Mark Ingram finished with a mere 39. Bennett rushed for 1,067 yards but averaged 3.4 yards per rush.
In 1996, with Brooks out with a season-ending injury, Antonio Freeman emerged as the No. 1 receiver and had 56 catches. With Brooks out, Don Beebe caught 39 passes as the No. 2 receiver. Tight ends Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura combined for 68 catches, and backs Bennett, Levens and William Henderson combined for 89. Favre had a better running game, with Bennett and Levens racking up 1,465 yards.
In 1997, Freeman and Brooks both topped 1,000 yards, combining for 2,253 yards and 19 touchdowns, Levens and Henderson combined for 94 catches, and Levens rushed for 1,435 yards.
Compare those to Favre's supporting cast this season. With the superb trio of Donald Driver, James Jones and Greg Jennings at receiver — not to mention Ruvell Martin and Koren Robinson rounding out the "Big Five" — and Donald Lee emerging at tight end, Favre arguably has a better group of receivers than he did during his MVP seasons. Who would have predicted that back in early August? Plus, in his last five games, Ryan Grant has rushed for 467 yards. If he matches that in the final five games, he'll finish with an out-of-nowhere 961 yards.
If you look at that 1995 team, it's hard to believe Favre threw for 4,413 yards, 38 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That has to be his finest season. But that Favre is back near the pinncale of his position 12 years later may be the greatest achievement of his career.
Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com